Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Looking for family roots in hill town Verrandi

We took a trip to the small hill town, Verrandi to see where our friends' ancestors may have originated. The village is north of Ventimiglia, which is very close to the French border. We parked by a church and walked into town. Since it was Monday the two restaurants were closed. Alas, no coffee.

Verrandi was like a ghost town. We passed trees laden with the local tagascan olives. Some were even beginning to turn from green to black. We climbed up some narrow stone stairways and through ancient, stone arches to reach the top of the town. All the buildings were in excellent shape with stones that had been cleaned and repointed. Outside the houses were lots of beautiful flowering plants. There was even some washing hanging up but no signs of any people. Utterly charming but so quiet.

Walking back down the main pathway a lady opened her door to talk to us. She couldn't really answer any questions as she had moved from Torino only eight months before. She did try to point our friends in the direction of the parking lot. If there was a car there it belonged to an old, old lady, a Verrando, who knew the history of the town.Unfortunately, the car wasn't there.

Verrandi's full-time population is only 31 people but there are more summer visitors, especially people from Northern Europe. The locals speak the same dialect, with lots of French in it, as the people in Ceriana, where our friends come from. This is quite unusual as dialects can vary within a few miles.

Ceriana has a lot of Verrandos. The question is did they come from Verrandi or did they leave Ceriana and move to Verrandi, which was founded in the 1700s while Ceriana's history goes back to the 11th century. I'm sure the parish priests could answer those questions. Our friend thought that perhaps the Verrandos moved to Verrandi because of a falling out in Ceriana. It's quite possible since there do seem to be some ongoing feuds and very long memories even today. Whatever the answer Verrandi is a lovely spot.

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